Home World India UP holds second round of election amid exit poll row

UP holds second round of election amid exit poll row

DEOBAND (Uttar Pradesh)

Around 65 per cent polling was recorded in the second phase of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections on Wednesday, officials said.

“Polling for the second phase in up ended peacefully with around 65 per cent polling,” an election official said. Maximum voting was reported from Saharanpur and Lakhimpur Kheri.

Barring some places where Electronic Voting Machines developed some snags, polling was smooth and peaceful in most of the 67 assembly constituencies across 11 districts.

Polling began on Wednesday morning amid tight security at 7 am.

The election, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh that is home to 220 million Indians, is the world’s largest this year and will have a key influence on Modi’s chances of clinching a second term as prime minister in 2019.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 general election on the way to winning the biggest national mandate in 30 years.

But the publication of an exit poll after the first round of voting in the state last Saturday has led to the arrest of a newspaper editor amid allegations that it amounted to an illegal attempt to influence voting in later rounds.

News organisations and survey groups conduct exit polls to glean the first pointers to the likely winner but the election commission bans their publication until all rounds of voting are completed.

Uttar Pradesh is holding seven round of voting, moving from west to east in a state more populous than Brazil, to allow security forces to redeploy and curb the risk of electoral violence or malpractice.

Shekhar Tripathi, an online editor with Hindi-language newspaper Dainik Jagran,said the criminal charges filed against him on suspicion of violating election rules were ‘baseless’.

Final results on March 11 in Uttar Pradesh and four other state elections will deliver voters’ first verdict on Modi’s shock decision in November to withdraw 86 percent of the cash in circulation.

The banknote ban was launched to purge the economy of “black money”, untaxed income and the proceeds of crime and corruption, but it has disrupted daily life and caused an economic slowdown.

On Wednesday, voters in 67 constituencies queued outside polling stations to elect lawmakers who will rule the impoverished state.